Whichever way you slice it – whether you enjoyed X-Men: Apocalypse or not – it cannot be denied that the franchise as a whole is big business. With its ninth movie now in theatres, the X-Men film series has already featured timeline shenanigans and spinoffs, and its lead creator, Bryan Singer, has now added another possibility to the ‘development’ pile: Mystique.
In a recent interview, Singer discussed the way in which the implications of the final reel of X-Men: Apocalypse work in relation to the source material, and how a Mystique solo movie could work in the context of the new direction taken by the movie.
“[It’s my] kind of my homage to the Age Of Apocalypse comic – everyone sort of switches roles. Obviously I didn’t tell that full story, but people’s sides are switched, alliances are changed. I think [Mystique’s] right for [a standalone], whether it’s Jennifer or not. She has this different view of the world: Xavier can get into Cerebro and look at the world but he’d rather just teach classes and see the beauty of mutants and humans co-existing in his mansion in Westchester. Along comes Raven with a reality check on the state of the world. It opens up a lot of avenues.”
There are several points of interest here. Firstly, Singer makes a very deliberate comment about Mystique being right for a standalone movie, “whether it’s Jennifer or not.” The character in the most recent films has been played by Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence and, while some reviews have noted that her work in X-Men: Apocalypse is perhaps below par, she is a giant box office draw, thanks to The Hunger Games franchise. Any decision to re-cast might be considered controversial, unless it is in the context of more timeline shenanigans.
Secondly, there’s the issue of audiences being unsettled by perceived deviation from the source material – leading to director Bryan Singer having to discuss it in the press. Clearly, not everyone is a fan of the X-Men comic book series, nor have all fans of the X-Men comic book series read every variation and spinoff title – so not everyone is aware of the way in which the ‘original’ character arcs play out in print. There is a good case to be made, therefore, for film adaptations to have the room to make changes, and move character and plot arcs in different directions, to facilitate a type of storytelling that is distinct from the comic book panel.
While the reception of X-Men: Apocalypse has been somewhat below expectation, the franchise shows no sign of either slowing down, or reducing in scope. With an as-yet-untitled Wolverine spinoff on the cards for 2017, a Deadpool sequel in development, and discussions about X-Force, Gambit and The New Mutants movies ongoing, it seems that a Mystique film might be just what this testosterone-heavy line-up needs.